In this assignment the writer will locate a currently used safeguarding policy from the public domain. The writer will then develop a brief case study in relation to a vulnerable child.
Brief case study regarding Mr Brown and Ms Webb; Mr Brown lives at home with his mother. He has Cerebral palsy that affects his movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth.(Krigger, K.W., 2006.) Mr Browns condition means he can only walk short distances using a Kaye walker but mainly transports himself using a self-propel wheelchair.
Mr Brown has always had contact with social services due to his physical condition. His mother Ms Webb has also received intermittent support due to a mental breakdown she suffered when her son was born and diagnosed. Ms Webb is also known to be volatile and has a history of lying and exaggerating her health issues. Social services have left her to raise her son with a basic care package of respite or residential care when required and transportation services.
Ms Webb was also a victim of abuse by her former partner and the father of her son. Ms Webb’s father was an alcoholic and her mother and siblings were subject to his abusive ways, as a result Ms Webb is estranged from her family. Mr Brown and his mother Ms Webb now live in a flat in Buckinghamshire.
One day when transportation services were dropping Mr brown home Ms Webb did not answer the door.
With a hunch Ms Webb was in the flat and possibly unable to open the door they made the decision to call the police. When the police cam they decided to force entry to the home. When they had done this they found Ms Webb laying in the sofa in squaller, there was cats and dog faeces throughout the home.
Due to the conditions of the home the police raised a safeguarding concern based on the evidence presented and deemed Ms Webb was being neglectful towards her son and pets. The local authority agreed that Mr Brown should stay with his respite carer until a child protection team could speak with both Mr Brown and Ms Webb.
The information gathered confirmed that Mr Brown had care and support needs , he appeared to be at risk of neglect and unable to protect himself from this risk because of his care and support needs. Consequently, the Section 47 duty to undertake a safeguarding enquiry was triggered. (Legislationgovuk. 2014)
Mr Brown’s social worker visited him and his mother separately, and found they were living in an uninhabitable property identical to what was described in the police report. His mother was struggling to support him and disclosed she was terminally ill with breast cancer. With this disclosure the social worker proceeded with a safeguarding meeting. The social worker also met with Mr Brown gained additional information such as; his knowledge and understanding of his mother’s condition, eating mainly microwave meals, rarely washing and his views and opinion going forward. The social worker also ascertained whether Mr Brown wanted an independent advocate to assist him to articulate his wishes and views around the safeguarding enquiry. He agreed to be supported by an advocate for the duration of the safeguarding enquiry.
A safeguarding planning meeting was held. This was chaired by the Child social service (CSC) manager and included Mr Brown, his mother, his advocate, the transportation service and his social worker. Ms Webb agreed to an immediate period of respite until a long term plan could be put in place. She also agreed to their pets being fostered as opposed to removed permanently.
Mr Brown chose to share his views in writing, with the advocate verbally communicating these. He spoke of the difficulties of living at home and wanting his mother to get better. In order to achieve this he identified his desired outcomes as; I want to live near my mother but not with her, with weekly evening visits. I want to live in an environment where I can receive the care and support I need. I want to stay with my respite carer and only go to residential care when she is unable to care and support me. I also want my pets to be looked after where I can still have contact with them.
During this meeting Ms Webb understood her son’s need to have more care and support, but found it difficult as she felt she was losing her parental rights. (Ryan, M., 2019.) She stated despite being ill she found it hard to ask for help.
At the end of the meeting a safeguarding plan was agreed which include; Mr Brown would remain in respite care, only going to residents care when his career was unable to accommodate him as a result of having other children. Mr Brown agreed times and places he would meet his mother, including weekly evening visits at her house, once her property situation had been resolved with a domestic service. A carer’s assessment was to be undertaken with his mother, and additional information regarding her illness will be gathered. His mother agreed to work with social services to ensure she still had an active role regarding her sons life and decision made.
This safeguarding plan was reviewed during a follow-up safeguarding meeting, and it was confirmed that the following outcomes had been achieved; Mr Brown had moved to a supported accommodation with a regular respite. Mr Brown had started travel training with a support worker to attend the evening visits with, evening cookery classes and social events. Mr Brown had arranged to meet his mother at agreed times for tea visits and shopping / coffee trips. The writer will now critically analyse the effectiveness of the policy by drawing on relevant research and using the case study to illustrate understanding.
Though case studies methods remain a controversial approach to data collection. Case studies have wide recognition in many social science studies. (Zainal, Z., 2007)
Mr Brown and mother Ms Webb are known to the local authority. The local authority are aware of Ms Webb’s mental health issues and family history inclusive of Mr Browns physical condition.
It has been argued that, once the child is born risk factors such as; mental illness, domestic violence, and disabilities regularly arise either singly or in combination, which increase the risk of neglect (Cox et al., 1987). Connell-Carrick’s (2003) systematic review found that in 4 out of 5 studies neglecting mothers were more likely to be depressed. Child victims of neglect have parents who are psychologically unavailable to them which may be influenced by factors, including depression and chaotic home environments (Connell-Carrick, 2003) (BRANDON, M. et al., 2014.).
Similarity to the factors identified in the case study it could be argued that the local authority could have implemented additional services such as; in house support workers, a befriend service for both Ms Webb and Mr Brown, referred Ms Webb to counselling via GP and reviewed their care package sooner that every six months as a result of these factors. With Ms Webb and Mr Brown not having family support, Ms Webbs mental state varies this is another factor should be taken into account despite Ms Webb’s history of being volatile. Findings suggest that social isolation induces behavioural and neuroendocrine responses relevant to depression for males and females but it also states females may be especially sensitive to isolation. (Grippo, A.J., et al 2007.)
Therefore, it can be logically argued that the local authority offering additional support may have possibly highlighted the issues of neglect present in the case of Mr Brown and Ms Webb before their circumstances got this bad. Despite Ms Webb’s volatile nature studies show there are always challenges and opportunities to the introduction of any service initiative. (Stanley, T., 2009.) The importance of effective communication could have been implemented more with Ms Webb to achieve working in partnership for the best interest of Mr Brown in order to achieve the best possible outcomes as detailed in the Children and Families Act 2014 section 19. (Legislationgovuk. 2019.)
Under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, local authorities have the duty for establishing whether a child is in need and ensuring services provided are appropriate for the child. The Children act 2014 also states, local authorities are within their rights to make referrals to services as opposed to offering the services themselves. (Servicegovuk. 2019.) There is a strong possibility that had services been in the home with safeguarding being the general responsibility of agencies, groups and individuals. (Gardner, R., 2006.) It is unlikely that their home and lifestyle would have become inhabitable and unnoticed. Studies show there are key dilemmas in the implementation of Part III of the Children act and highlights conflicts similar to the those presented by the local authority in the case study. (Colton, M., et al, 1995.)
The Children act 2014 forms an essential foundation of the local authority duty and functions in regards to supporting and involving children, young people and their parents. Buckinghamshire local authority once the safeguarding Section 47 was triggered the Children act 2014 amends the Children’s act 1989 Which states Before providing any assistance or imposing any conditions, a local authority should regard the child concerned and their parents. Given the fact Mr Brown is disabled, and lives with his mother who has parental responsibility you can clearly see that the social worker upheld this fundamental section of the act.
The conditions of the home described in the case study suggest the condition of the home found by the police happened over a period of time. Certainly no longer the 6 months as this is the standard timeframe (or sooner if needs be) for review meeting for looked after children. In this case study this should apply to Mr Brown. Given the fact he has a disability and regular respite care. There is a strong indicator that the transportation service and and the educational service could have missed indications of neglect. It is arguable that the Police implementation of Emergency protection powers (children act 2014) in order to safeguard Mr Brown until social services could investigate the matter further.
Had the police not made the decision to contact social services and raise safeguarding concerns. The possibility of the neglect Mr Brown was in receipt of would have remained undetected longer. With the housing circumstances understandably stressful the decision the local authority made to place Mr Brown with a respite carer both he and Ms Webb were familiar with was in the best interest of Mr Brown and it also continued to give Ms Webb parent responsibility as the respite care in place was agreed by them both. The information gathered from the police initial report gave the local authority grounds to act to immediately. It also shows the importance of multi agency working in order to safeguard and protect vulnerable individuals.
The Data protection act 2018 is also a fundamental factor in how this information was stored and sent which is crucial for maintaining confidentially and upholding the law. The investigate process allowed Mr Brown to give his views and options. Access to an advocacy service with an advocate voicing his opinions on his behalf. Section 67 of the Care Act 2014 (the Act) imposes a duty on local authorities to arrange for an independent advocate to be available to represent and support certain persons for the purpose of facilitating involvement. (Legislationgovuk. 2019.) The implementation of this act was fundamental by ensuring Mr Browns view were heard ensuring his needs would be met. The safeguarding planning meeting that took place is in line with the section 47 enquiry with the aim to decide whether any action should be taken to safeguard the child. Subsequent review meeting in line with the looked after children framework will ensure Mr Browns needs will continue to be met and his care plan updated as his needs will inevitably change.
To conclude the outcome regarding Mr Browns case clearly illustrates that perhaps safeguarding could have been implemented better. Given the fact safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility it could be argued that all services in contact with Mr Brown could have identified non verbal indicators of neglect. Has this situation remained undetected the outcome could have resulted in deadly consequences. This is simply because Mr Brown has reduced mobility can not walk unaided with his main source of nutrition being microwave meals. Should at any point Mr Brown attempted to attempt to cook this could have been catastrophic.
This article argues that social workers and the general public need a clear understanding of the distinction between avoidable and unavoidable mistakes in child protection work. The death of a child dies is not proof that any professional was incompetent. The study goes on to suggest that limited knowledge and the complexity of assessing risk mean that professionals can only make the best judgement on the available evidence. (Munro, E., 1996.) Therefore it can also be argued that the local authority did their best with the information they had access to. However, it can also be argued that given the background of Ms Webb and Mr Brown more services could have been in place initial to reduce the risk of neglect presented.
The Children Act 2004 states that the interests of children are of prime importance in all considerations of welfare and safeguarding. (Powysgovuk. 2019.) With the fact that safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. More emphasis could be put on the this price of legislation to reduce the risk of neglect and abuse of vulnerable individuals. This law could also be published more so that the general public have a general understanding of way they can respond and report to suspicions of abuse and neglect. This studies identically reflects this argument that states, whilst a philosophy of partnership is strongly embedded within contemporary policy – notably in the context of child protection and safeguarding – there remains much to learn in developing and fostering multi-agency collaborations that achieve real public safety outcomes for the well-being of children and young people. (Crawford, A. et, al, 2015)